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Fitzroy Island National Park

  • Nature, culture and history
  • Park alerts and park summary

    Getting there and getting around

    Access to Fitzroy Island is by private boat or daily ferry services from Cairns. Reservations can be made online or by calling the ferry hotline on (07) 4030 7907. Ferries can be affected by weather conditions so it is best to confirm transfers 24 hours prior to departure. The trip takes about 45 minutes.

    There is no vehicle access on or around Fitzroy Island.

    Wheelchair accessibility

    There are no wheelchair-accessible facilities or tracks.

    Park features

    Close to the north Queensland mainland, Fitzroy Island National Park is rugged and diverse with granite outcrops, open woodlands, rainforest, mangroves and coral beaches. This high continental island was connected to the mainland before sea levels rose.

    For thousands of years, the Gungandji people hunted, gathered foods and held special ceremonies on the island they call Kobaburra. Cook gave the island its current name in 1770. The island became a quarantine station for Chinese people heading to the Palmer River goldfields in 1876 and later part of an Aboriginal mission growing fruit and vegetables.

    Several lighthouses have been established over the past 80 years, from a carbide gaslight on Little Fitzroy Island in 1923 to a wartime light built on the ridge above the old lightkeeper's residence in 1943. The lighthouse, which is currently used as an information display, was built in 1970. This was the last staffed lighthouse purpose-built in Australia and probably the world. Today's automated lighthouse is again located on Little Fitzroy Island.

    Camping and accommodation

    Camping

    The campground is managed by the Cairns City Council and is not always open. Check the Cairns City Council website for details.

    Other accommodation

    For information on the Fitzroy Island resort facilities, see the tourism information links below.

    Things to do

    Walking

    Fitzroy Island is a large island with rugged terrain and sometimes impenetrable vegetation. Walking tracks in the national park provide visitors with the opportunity to explore a range of vegetation communities and scenic landscapes.

    Five walks, ranging from 30 minutes return to three hours return, are provided in Fitzroy Island National Park.

    Lighthouse circuit — 4.2km return (3 hours)

    This is a challenging circuit walk which affords spectacular views from the lighthouse and lookouts at the summit and the Boulders. The walk can be undertaken in either direction although ascending via the lighthouse road is less demanding. The ascent in both directions is very steep so take your time and rest along the way. This walk is split into the three return walks, as described below, for those who would like a shorter walk.

    Lighthouse road — 3.6km return (2 hours)

    A very steep service road from the north-eastern end of Welcome Bay climbs through rainforest towards the lighthouse. Along the way, a lookout on the windy northern side of the island affords views of Green Island on a clear day. Inside the base of the lighthouse (open when ranger is on site) an informative display presents the maritime history of Fitzroy Island. From the lighthouse, spectacular views of the ocean and, in winter, an occasional humpback whale sighting, make this difficult walk well worth the effort.

    Boulder lookout — 300m return (30 minutes)

    From the back of the resort, the first section of the summit track is a short steep climb with many steps ascending through rainforest to the boulder lookout. The lookout affords picturesque views towards Cape Grafton and Cairns. The walk returns along the same track to the resort.

    Summit track — 2.6km return to resort (3 hours)

    From the back of the resort, the summit track climbs steeply up to the boulder lookout, then continues to ascend, steeply in places with many hairpin bends, through heathland and sclerophyll forest, offering views over this otherwise inaccessible part of the island. At the highest point on the island, the summit (269m), slabs of granite and windswept casuarinas frame magnificent views over the island, surrounding reefs and mainland. The boulder-strewn track then winds down through woodland to join the lighthouse road.

    Secret Garden track — 1km return (45 minutes)

    A short walk from the western edge of the resort lease meanders through sheltered rainforest and around huge granite boulders. A series of interpretive signs and a viewing platform overlooking a seasonal creek provide insight to the secrets of the rainforest animals and plants.

    Nudey Beach track — 1.2km return (45 minutes)

    A relatively easy walk from the western edge of the resort winds through rainforest and coastal woodlands leading to a picturesque beach. Some walkers may find the boulder stairways difficult to navigate.

    Guided tours and talks

    Commercially operated tours are available, including reef snorkelling, kayaking and scuba diving. For more information see the tourism information links below.

    Picnic and day-use areas

    Picnic tables are located in the camping area, adjacent to the resort.

    Boating

    Fitzroy Island provides a safe anchorage, facilities and water for private boats. Eight A class public moorings are provided. Theses blue and white moorings have yellow pick-up tags and yellow bands on the buoys. Monohulls up to a maximum length of 10m and multihulls up to a maximum length of 9m can use an A class mooring.

    The mooring specifications and conditions of use are displayed on the colour-coded band and on the mooring tag attached to the pick-up line. Most moorings have a limit of either two or four hours. This has been introduced to ensure fair and equitable use of the moorings. If a vessel picks up a mooring on or after 3pm it may remain on the mooring overnight and is not required to vacate the mooring until 9am the next day.

    In the marine park, please anchor only on sand and avoid shallow beach access to the island — corals are destroyed by anchors and chains dragging across the reef. Disposal of garbage in the marine park is prohibited and vessels must be more than 700m from sensitive areas (reefs, aquaculture facilities and people in the water) before discharging sewerage holding tanks.

    Fishing

    Zoning boundaries and conditions apply to fishing in the waters around Fitzroy Island National Park. For detailed maps and information for State waters see Great Barrier Reef Coast Marine Park and for Commonwealth waters see Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.

    Bag and size limits apply. For details of bag and size limits for popular fish species see Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries.

    Viewing wildlife

    The fringing reef just off the beach reveals the diversity of marine life in these waters. A variety of reef fish, hard and soft corals and other marine animals can be seen.

    On the island, catch a glimpse of brilliantly-coloured Ulysses butterflies, along with emerald doves, sulphur-crested cockatoos, orange-footed scrubfowl, ospreys and migrating birds such as buff-breasted paradise kingfishers and pied imperial-pigeons. One of the largest predators on the island, the 1.2m long yellow-spotted monitor, can be seen around the resort area. At night, the dusky leaf-nosed bat, a small insect-eating bat, can be seen chasing insects near the resort lights.

    See the description of the park's natural environment for more details about Fitzroy Island's diverse wildlife.

    Snorkelling and diving

    Snorkelling in Welcome Bay and Nudey Beach offers the chance to explore a fringing reef which supports many species of fish and invertebrates. Snorkelling in other locations on the island may be dangerous due to strong currents. Seek advice from the resort staff in the Dive Shop about safe locations.

    The Fitzroy Island Resort offers scuba diving, sea kayaking, fishing, aqua scooters, catamarans, outriggers, paddle skis and glass-bottomed boat tours. For more information see the tourism information links below.

    Things to know before you go

    Essentials to bring

    Pets

    Domestic animals are not permitted on Fitzroy Island National Park.

    Climate and weather

    Two seasons occur in north Queensland, "the wet" and "the dry". The wet season, November to April, brings high humidity and heavy rainfall. March is the wettest month, with an average rainfall of 502mm. During the dry season, May to October, the temperatures are lower but the humidity is still relatively high. Winter rain is not uncommon. Throughout the year, average daily temperatures range from 19 to just over 30 degrees Celsius. For more information see the tourism information links below.

    Fuel and supplies

    The Fitzroy Island Resort offers a dive shop, restaurant, snack bar and bar.

    Staying safe

    Be aware that estuarine crocodiles may be encountered in waters surrounding continental islands and cays in north Queensland. Please be aware of the presence of crocodiles, as they can be dangerous to people.

    The high temperatures and relative humidity experienced on the island can lead to heat exhaustion for the unfit or unacclimatised.

    For more information, please read the guidelines on safety in parks and forests

    Looking after the park

    See the guidelines on caring for parks for more information about protecting our environment and heritage in parks.

    Park management

    Fitzroy Island was gazetted as national park in July 1989. It is not all national park — leases are held by the resort, Reefarm (mariculture) and Cairns City Council (camping). The Cairns Port Authority manages the public jetty and the Australian Maritime Safety Authority maintains the lighthouse at Little Fitzroy. The development of the Fitzroy Island Management Plan enables all lease holders, Traditional Owners and interest groups to have a say in how the island is managed, and ensures that their needs are met without compromising the environment. Management plans set out strategies for dealing with critical management issues (such as natural and cultural resource protection and user conflicts). The management plan is currently being drafted.

    Tourism information links

    The Gateway Discovery Centre

    For tourism information for all regions in Queensland see www.queenslandholidays.com.au.

    Further information

    QPWS Cairns Information Centre
    • 5B Sheridan Street Cairns, Queensland
    • ph (07) 4046 6601
    • fax (07) 4046 6606
    • email: cic@epa.qld.gov.au
    EPA Customer Service Centre
    • 160 Ann Street, Brisbane
    • PO Box 15155, City East Qld 4000
    • ph (07) 3227 8185
    • fax (07) 3227 8749
    • email: csc@epa.qld.gov.au

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    Last updated: 03 July 2007